Summary: Gardens are more than collections of plants. Gardens and Gardeners are intersectional spaces and agents for positive change in our world. Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden is a weekly public radio program & podcast exploring what we mean when we garden. Through thoughtful conversations with growers, gardeners, naturalists, scientists, artists and thinkers, Cultivating Place illustrates the many ways in which gardens are integral to our natural and cultural literacy. These conversations celebrate how these interconnections support the places we cultivate, how they nourish our bodies, and feed our spirits. They change the world, for the better. Take a listen.
- Visit Website
- Artist: Jennifer Jewell / Cultivating Place
- Copyright: 2016 - Cultivating Place
In our last Cultivating Place "Dispatches from the Home Garden," we heard from a young gardener experiencing her first garden dislocation/relocation in Sacramento, California. This week – in many ways in honor of Father’s Day — we hear from another home gardener, this time in New Jersey and this time on the same land her grandparents cultivated and which she and her husband, with the steady help and mentorship of her father, became the fourth generation of her family to steward this land after her uncle died and the property went on the market. The 20 years since taking on the family farm has seen a lot of hard work, the restoration of some elements of the homestead and the re-envisioning of other elements. Barns have been stabilized, old rose borders are now mixed perennial beds, and what was once an outbuilding is now our home gardeners writing studio, her father has now died. Other things – including the legacy and spiritual presence of her father – have remained reassuringly similar. Sometimes our gardens are adventure stories in which we are on a vision quest to find out who we are. Sometimes they are our anchors to windward in reminding us who we are and where we came from. Sometimes they are both. Gardener, writer, wife, mother, and daughter Ryder Ziebarth shares her garden journey on Cultivating Place this week. Join us!
This week on Cultivating Place we hear the story of the first 15 years of the Edible Communities – the umbrella name of the many publishers who bring you the edible communities publications across the US and Canada. Fifteen years ago, two women who cared about food, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, published a 16-page, one-color newsletter to help connect the farmers in their area to the food-lovers in their area. That was the birth of Edible Ojai, and the beginning of what is now known as the Edible Communities publications – the rich look and face of local food across North America. Edible Communities, a James Beard Foundation award-winning family of 100 locally owned and licensed magazines devoted to the local food movement, is marking its 15th anniversary this Spring. Since the launch of Edible Ojai (California) in 2002, Edible Communities’ publications have become an influential voice in the food world by keeping focused and passionate about local food, how it’s grown and harvested, what defines regional flavors and trends, and how to prepare and present food in a way that’s rooted in local culture. This week Cultivating Place is joined by Nancy Painter, executive director of the Edible Communities media, from her offices in Maplewood New Jersey to hear more - join us!
Gardening is a specifically human endeavor. It is a characterizing feature of our species, fairly well documented throughout our evolution. Which fascinates me. And each of us come to this endeavor for our own reasons and needs – sometimes very practical, sometimes very esthetic, sometimes spiritual. Our gardens are like some larger version of our very fingerprints. Today Cultivating Place welcomes a home gardening member of the so called “millennial” generation, and self-described Urban Homesteader. Despite having grown up around gardening, she did not begin to really absorb its importance and her own attraction to it until her own early adulthood. Today, she shares with us her journey so far, some of the lessons and highlights, her first experience leaving an established garden, and the opportunities presenting themselves to her in her new garden. Melissa Keyser, along with her husband Matt, have recently relocated from Santa Rosa, CA to Sacramento, CA. After four years spent building and establishing what they imagined to be their “forever home,” their journey has taken a twist. She is blogs about their pursuit of a sustainable urban homesteading life at sweetbeegarden.com. Listening to the story of Melissa and Matt’s gardening and homesteading journey I am struck by a couple of things – the first being that there is little new under the sun, but that the fun part is often part and parcel of discovering and learning some of these things for ourselves. The second thing I am struck by is hope. Each generation of horticulturists, gardeners and plant lovers will necessarily respond to the prevailing social, cultural, economic and political winds of their own moment in time, and for me there is beauty, taste and hope in their resourcefulness and resilience in doing just this.
What do we mean when we use the word “wild” and why does it matter? In 2017, the New York City urban landscape commonly known as The High Line celebrates its official 5th birthday. This milestone is being marked by the publication of a new book entitled "Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes" (Timber Press, 2017), coauthored by plantsmen Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke, with graphic design by Lorraine Ferguson. Oudolf is the renowned plantsman responsible for overseeing the planting design and plant choices, and Rick Darke has documented and collaborated on the project since its inception. "Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes" reflects decades of dedication to viewing gardens through the lenses of cultural geography and social anthropology. The specific garden design and plant choices of these now famed and highly visited gardens is of global interest and a primary focus of the new book. But the philosophy and design ethos underpinning the layered meaning in the book’s subtitle: elevating the nature of modern landscapes - is absolutely as compelling. Author, photographer, philosopher, and landscape ethicist Rick Darke joins Cultivating Place via skype this week to discuss both aspects of the High Line in greater depth. Join us!
Melinda Benson-Valavanis is a floral designer and owner of MCreations in Chico, CA. She recently committed her business to participating in a project called re-bloom – in which she accepts the flowers from a wedding or other large event after the event is over and and re-purposes them for distribution to people and communities who might need a bit of floral energy and cheer in their lives. In this season of extravagant and joyful weddings, graduations, reunions and anniversaries – I can’t think of a better way to pay love and joy forward - and along to its next recipients. Melinda is with me this week on Cultivating Place from the North State Public Radio studios to share more. Join us!
This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Jan Johnsen – a gardener, landscape designer and author of the books "Heaven is a Garden" and "The Spirit of Stone,” both published by St. Lynn’s Press. As a speaker for botanical garden show audiences, Jan loves to share her insights on the beneficial effects of informed garden design. Her unique approach — incorporating ancient practices with contemporary ideas — is entertaining, inspiring and informative. Join us!
Spring is a time of awakening and full sensory immersion in the world around us - even if we aren’t gardeners or nature lovers. It is hard to avoid, ignore or miss Spring’s reckless abundance and generosity. It is the perfect counterpoint to the winter’s restful, healing darkness and dormancy. In appreciation for all of spring’s growing energy, I am pleased to be joined this week by Dr. Raymond Barnett, author of “Earth Wisdom: John Muir, Accidental Taoist, Charts Humanity’s Only Future on a Changing Planet,” which he published in 2016. In this season of worsening news about our health of our world’s climate and ecosystems, and the seemingly ever more threatening nature of political abuse of what few protections we have in place for our water, air and planet’s diversity of life in the pursuit of in misguided financial “gain” - a book like this one catches my eye, my imagination and my heart. In our interview Ray shares the story of how he came to write the book and the his own journey of studying and embracing the ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy and his recognizing its tenets in his deepening study of John Muir over the past 5 years. What results is his comparing of Taoism and John Muir’s separate but interestingly parallel “immanent world views,” in which Ray sees profound hope for the life - and heart - of our world. Once understood and adopted, Ray believes, from this immanent world view - pillaging our earth’s natural resources, abusing or dismissing the equal importance of all of its many life forms, make no sense at all to anyone, no matter your political, spiritual or economic interest. In this "immanent world view” Ray sees “three pillars”: 1. That this earthly world is our true home - there is no better place, this is not a test; 2. that we as humans are equal to, and intimately related to all other living things. Humans are not “higher” and do not have “dominion” but are 1 part of a very complex and interdependent whole; 3. That in all of life there is a critically important balance always being calibrated between opposite energies - light and dark, hard and fluid, female and male, Yin and Yang, and that if any individual, culture, or ecosystem is out of balance and overly dominated by any one energy, then it is not healthy and will not be able to sustain itself over time. It is a compelling and thought provoking conversation - join us! Ray is the author of 7 previous titles, which encompass the varied fields of study for which he has not only deep passion, but also expertise, including: evolutionary ecology, particularly that of California, Natural History, mountaineering, traditional Chinese Language and Culture, mystery fiction and John Muir.
Close to 21 years ago, a Cordon Bleu trained chef and business woman named Jane Scotter left a busy city life in London and bought a farm. She was joined not long after by another professional chef, Harry Astley. Together the two have taken their 16 idyllic acres in Herefordshire, England and crafted a life fully integrated and interdependent with the land, its plants and animals, their food, their own sense of purpose and the energetic cycles of the moon and the seasons. Their farm - Fern Verrow - is not just any farm, it is a biodynamic farm and in 2015, Jane and Harry, with the photographic assistance of Tessa Traeger, produced a lushly reciped and photographed account of their energetic farming journey. I've always been fascinated by biodynamics - its earthy and yet other-wordly attributes and awareness, and I’ve been eager to learn more. As we near that universal and ancient celebration of land and re-growth, May Day, Jane and Harry join us this week on Cultivating Place. Original images by Tessa Traeger, the book "Fern Verrow" is published Quadrille Press.
It is California Native Plant Week this week. Officially designated by the California Native Plant Society in 2010, this year the festivities and educational and awareness activities are scheduled all week April 15–23. In celebration of this and in honor of the many native landscapes I love, and native plants that bring beauty, life and a deep sense of place to my home garden, this week I am pleased to welcome Dennis Mudd to Cultivating Place. Dennis is a retired tech industry CEO and developer of such things as MusicMatch and Slacker Radio. He is also an avid native plant home gardener in Poway – near San Diego. In an effort to improve his own native plant home gardening efforts, five years ago now Dennis teamed up with the California Native Plant Society and The Jepson Herbarium to create the now extensive easy to use, online gardening resource known as Calscape. Join us to hear more!
“Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor” — that is the tag line for the Old Farmer’s Almanac, an annual handbook for American growers, farmers and gardeners — celebrating its 225th year in publication this year. Every year for the past 225 years, farmers, gardeners, landholders and growers of all kinds have been consulting the Old Farmer’s Almanac for weather predictions, growing suggestions and important dates based on — among other things — astronomy. On Cultivating Place this week, we’re joined by Janice Stillman, the 13th editor and first female editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to hear more. Join us!
If you’re like me, you love getting out into your own garden, but visiting someone else’s garden is almost as good — there’s just less weeding required. The end of March/beginning of April is also the unofficial kick off of garden-visiting season, with garden tours and open garden days on local, regional and national levels, and of all shapes and sizes, getting started now and running right through to November in some parts of the country. While open gardens and garden tours are hosted by organizations large and small, and individuals both famous and obscure, there are few open garden days as well known or well organized across the US than the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days. This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Laura Wilson, recent past West Coast coordinator of the Garden Conservancy’s National Open Days Scheme. The 2017 Open Days directory will be out by the end of March letting those of us who love such things know where, when and which gardens are open around the country. Each year my directory has more pages dog eared than the last year. Join us!
Gardenways and "The Chinese Kitchen Garden" - a conversation with gardener and author, Wendy Kiang-Spray I am fairly accustomed to hearing the phrases “folk ways” and “food ways” and even ‘music ways” to describe the history, traditions, and myths associated with these subject areas in distinct locations or cultures. Only recently have I come to think of the history and traditions one brings to the garden or gardening as our “garden ways” – and the garden ways of other people are endlessly fascinating to me as one lens by which we see the world/one lens by which others can learn something of importance about us and who we are. When my children were small, we had a fabulous story book entitled: “The Ugly Vegetables”, written by author Grace Lin, whose parents were Taiwanese immigrants to the United States. In this children’s books she shares the universal concept of what makes us different and what brings us together through a young girl’s uncomfortable recognition that the garden her Chinese mother was growing was very different from the gardens being grown by their neighbors. The girl keeps asking her mother why she is growing such ugly and unusual vegetables when everyone else is growing beautiful flowers and so called “normal vegetables”. Her mother keeps saying – just wait. Ultimately, her mother’s long season vegetables ripen and are harvested and her mother makes the most delicious aromatic soup – the scent of which wafts throughout the neighborhood and brings the neighbors running, bearing gifts of flowers. The whole neighborhood then shares a meal of the amazing soup. The experience of reading this book with my children was transformative for me – and was hands down the first time I was consciously aware of the fact that we all have different garden ways and these are full of rich information. And, as a side effect, I’ve wanted to grow Chinese vegetables ever since. And make something that brings people together. When I saw an announcement about the early 2017 publication of writer, gardener Wendy Kiang-Spray’s first book “The Chinese Kitchen Garden” (2017, Timber Press) I knew I wanted to talk to her. Wendy joins Cultivating Place this week from the studios of NPR in Washington DC.
Sometimes when you use the word garden – people immediately conjure up images of the ornamental perennial border, other people however conjure up colorful visions of the summer vegetable garden. In July of 2016, we were joined by Stefani Bittner of Homestead Design Collective discussing her work as ornamental edible landscape designer. Early in 2017, her most recent and beautiful book, Harvest, was published by 10 Speed Press. Stefani co-wrote Harvest – Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary garden Plants with Alethea Harampolis. We’re celebrating the new publication and the upcoming growing season by revisiting our summer-time interview with Stefani. Enjoy. Stefani Bitner is co-owner with fellow plantperson, floral and garden designer Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their newest book, "Harvest - Unexpected projects using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants" came out this spring from Ten Speed Press.
It is the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and it does seem that even if you’re not Irish per se, St. Patrick’s Day brings out a little bit of Irish in us all. And while I have no interest in green beer, I do have an interest in the green of the garden. To celebrate this – today we’re pleased to be joined by Fionnuala Fallon, a horticulturist, garden writer, garden designer and organic flower farmer, and gardening correspondent for 'The Irish Times' since 2011. Her first book, photographed by her husband Richard Johnston, "From the Ground Up: How Ireland is Growing Its Own" was published by Collins Press in 2012.
Every garden has a story as does every gardener. In our next in the occasional series of Dispatches From the Home Garden, today we travel to the Pacific Northwest and cross the border to Canada, where we speak with a gardener, writer and floral designing flower farmer who joins us via skype. Christin Geall is the founder of Cultivated, an urban flower farm and design studio, and a literary gardening column which appears every two weeks in the Black Press group of newspapers. Christin also teaches creative non-fiction at the University of British Columbia in Victoria. She and I enjoy a conversation about her internationally inspired and trained, thoughtful gardening journey from avid home gardener to professional floral designer, urban flower farmer, and workshop host/mentor. Christin is a gardener who loves a challenge and prefers unusual and old-fashioned varieties of flowers and plants. I love this quote from her: “Appreciate the fact that you wouldn’t be a gardening at all if you weren’t the type to run long on hope. Love this about yourself and let go.”